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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  April 19, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PDT

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from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with harris board. he has played president, space cowboys, his movies have grossed $6 billion worldwide. brooklyn dodgers manager -- manager integrated baseball by putting jack roosevelt robinson on the field. sports in america would never be the same. a conversation with harrison ford, coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to
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fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: more than a decade before the civil rights activists took to the streets, branch rickey went up against a wall of segregation and brought in jackie roosevelt robinson to play in america's then all white pastime. it was a courageous move.
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all the while driving on the field. rekeyed took on the baseball this movient -- challenges -- let's take a look. >> i love baseball. given my whole life to it. i was a player at ohio university. they had a negro capture on the team -- catcher and the team. i saw him laid low, broken, because of the color of his skin. unfair atsomething the heart of the game i love.
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came when i could no longer ignore it. you help me love baseball again. tavis: >> congratulations, number one last weekend. off to a good start. i specifically asked for this clip, and i wanted this clip because it is one of the most powerful scenes in the movie. to see this. went >> senior citizen discount? [laughter] that he have a feeling is going to be worth something. you might see that on ebay and a few years as this movie comes a classic. i wanted to go see this because i wanted to experience it with people.
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i watched it last week and when it opened. that was one of the most powerful scenes in the entire movie. in part because even though people know the story, the top line story of what rickey did and what robinson did, the it.onale for why he did >> he was a very religious man, a devout methodist. had a number of motivation's besides the ethical and moral feelings that he had. i am not so sure, it had a lot to do with race because he grew was aa context when there race prejudice. as well, he was a baseball businessman. he wanted access to the rich pool of talent that were in the
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negro leagues. very quickly others or resign from the negro leagues. number of was a motivations, whichever one predominated, i don't think we know. tavis: but he was honest about that throughout the movie, he kept saying money, money. >> he was responsible. i think he fell responsible for the business he was running. he felt responsible for the society that he was a part of. i think he wanted both to prosper. tavis: >> going back to your long discography of all you have done, is this the first time you played a real life historic character? >> i think so. tavis: did it occur to you
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that's what you are doing? [laughter] >> a lot daughter was doing was having fun telling a story, dressing up and pretending to be someone else. -- all i thought i was doing was having fun telling a story. the reason i went so far in terms of the physical was because our director had in his mind, and i think he was absolutely right, that he did not want a recognizable character, actor in that part. he wanted the focus to be on jackie robinson, but he also did not want the distraction of having, for instance, harrison ford in his movie. i fully understood and agreed with him. risk in that,s a though. there is a risk in being able to
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disappear in that character. you are not intimidated about that at all? >> no, i thought it was great fun. the first time i was on stage i had a pillow under my jacket and power in my hair. that is the fun of it, the whole game for me. tavis: what is your read of the significance of this moment in history? >> i think it accelerated the opportunities for the civil- rights movement and for racial progress to be made. if it had not happen in baseball, i think it would have been a number of years before the progress that was made by the civil rights movement would have started. yous: what does that say to then about the power of sport? >> it is extraordinary. , youngerto remember
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people might not remember, -- >> did you just call me an old man? [laughter] >> ipod uf fellow traveler. -- i called you a fellow traveler. i am talking about something i think is really relevant, that young people really don't know that much about jackie robinson. what they read is a kind of footnote in history, but they n't know what it felt like to stand on that field and take the insults that he took. that is what i think the value of this film is, more than anything else. it is experiential. the people will experience what it felt like to be part of that time, and i think that equips him emotionally to want to make sure that is not the context
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they and their children grow up in. tavis: was there a particular part of the filming that make you uncomfortable, even though you knew you were playing a historical figure in the era of jim crow, when racism was that in your face? i don't know where you were when that film these particular scenes, but we see you sitting up in the stands while the coach of the pittsburg team is calling jackie robinson everything but a child of god. wasn't there, but i listened to the tracks. , when i saw the film assembled, the first couple of cuts that we had. i felt that was a really powerful part of the film. sitting through the film with an
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audience, i know what it felt like. ms. obama talked about when we had a screening at the white house. excruciating that scene was, and how she wanted young people , ande how far we have come to realize that we are not there yet. and i think it is more than just racial discrimination. discrimination of all kinds, religious, ethnic. i think we need to do a better job. tavis: i know given your stature, there are presidents who wanted to meet you, but i am curious as to whether or not this represent a moment for you to be in the white house with a black first family, with the big
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screen movie with this subject matter. >> i am so over thinking of him as a black president. i think of him as our president, wrestling with so many daunting issues and problems. i was delighted to be there. one of the things that was robinson was that mrs. was there with a number of jackie robinson scholarship recipients from across the country, young kids who were brought to washington. they saw a screening of the film that morning and were hosted by mrs. obama. ande was a great question answer session with these kids. it was great to see the work that is continuing to be done in jackie robinson's name by his widow, the very passionate and
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extraordinary rachel robinson. she is awesome. tavis: she is a fighter still. one of the many things i've always loved and respected about her is the degree to which she has protected his legacy and fault for his legacy to be expanded. earlier this week in major league asked -- baseball, everybody knows the story of what happened that day to no. 42. give me your sense of what it was like to be around somebody, spend time with someone who is that protective of the legacy of some and they loved that dearly. alsothink she is extraordinarily pragmatic and reasonable and sophisticated woman. you might think that such a fierce protection of her husband's legacy might encourage hurt to make choices begin
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encourage her to make choices that would not be the kind of artistic choices one might want to make as a filmmaker, but in fact, she was nothing but a resource. she did not want to make decisions. she wanted to be part of the process, and correctly so. she was extraordinarily useful to the director and the actor who played her husband. tavis: this is obviously the movie of his career so far. what do you make of him? , aan extraordinary actor really extraordinary person. he worked from mid-january to may, five days a week, five hours a day, perfecting the baseball skills that are necessary to play jackie robinson. he really understood the opportunity that he had and the
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challenge that he had, and i think he took tremendous advantage of that opportunity. he is a great kid. we will be seeing him a lot. tavis: i know that your career is not about the numbers, but i did mention at the top of the show that you have made about $6 billion worldwide with the films you have put forth. what does this say to you that this movie was number one last weekend? not just number one, but number one defined by some millions, the best expectation of what they thought this was going to do? >> it says that the culture is anxious and hungry for positive stories about challenges that america has met and partially overcome. because they are hungry to know how to perfect this society.
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i think that is really at the heart of it. we want to know that the high ideals that we are formed around our continue -- we want to know that these challenges .till require to be met there is so much divisiveness in our society. that is a big industry constructed around keeping us apart and servicing our opinions and fostering and supporting our prejudices. is the hunger to want , andel like an american want to come together to help meet the challenges that we face.
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tavis: you said something very , i think you are right about everything you said. in the tradition of the black church, i would say amen. i think he could be argued that one of those industries that keeps us apart is the industry called hollywood. are there lessons not just for the american people, but for hollywood about what the success of this kind of story is? >> i will take minor issue with you. i don't honestly believe that is hollywood. is the broadcast industry. it is what passes for journalism. amen, amen. lackis whole business of
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of capacity, willingness to to see the necessity and the power of coming together and compromising. it's critical to the next couple of years of our lives. the examples are easily available. i think that this film really is enjoyed -- has enjoyed greater success because it brings us together with the common humanity, a feeling of our common humanity, that whether you are black or white or muslim or not, christian, jew,
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you feel the same things when you witness what jackie robinson went through. tavis: that is why push back ever so gently and say that i agree wholeheartedly that might industry, the broadcast industry, has a long way to go to celebrate the humanity that rests in each of us. so is broadcast -- you did not say explicitly but i agree with your point. is our politics that are very divisive. being your point about long passed obama as a black president. there is a complexity of character that so often people of color don't get a chance to highlight, be they black, muslim, etc.. hollywood can do better. what is unique
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42," is thatilm, " there is a black love story. tavis: which never happened. >> that is pretty extraordinary. is an importantory jackie robi. in you don't see that much films, whether they are made by black filmmakers or white film makers. tavis: when i first saw the screenplay before i saw the film, i was concerned whether or rachel andry of jackie might slow down the story or in some way get in the way of the larger story about what he was up against, the politics, the era, etc. i went to see the movie and a
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few hours later i was processing what i had seen. and had to solely -- teles let myself and just recant and back up. what made it work is that i had seen something on the screen which was the love story, which was such a part of how he overcame to respect the jackie robinson story is a much broader story than is contained in the limits of the period of time "42"focuses on. he was an extraordinary athlete. he was a very successful student at ucla. he served his country in the war. not in the war, but in the army. he was court-martialed by the army, which we did bring up in the film. he went on after his baseball career to be very important and
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instrumental in the civil rights movement. all the way up through 1955- 1957 when the black power movement took the civil rights movement out of hands of others and accepted the responsibility themselves. for their destiny. and he was strong again. he was not a mild man. he really continued to be aggressive and prescience as a spokesman. focusing its in this time was really important, and the love how he mety showed the challenges that he faced,
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because he took it in and he took it home. tavis: that's right. >> and when he came back, he was revitalized. reenergize. by the love that he found. tavis: i had not thought about it in that way, but even the scenes where he had difficulty on the field for whatever reason, he would look in that stance trying to find rachel. love is a powerful and -- powerful thing, as you well know. you mentioned earlier about how little young people know about their history. i suspect because athletes are always on planes and moving around the country, i hope that every black athlete, every athlete, i sometimes wonder whether or not athletes of today really have an
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understanding and appreciation for what jackie robinson and so many others did to make it possible. ati was just in kansas city the negro leagues museum. that i did notgs know until i was at the museum, actually the negro leagues were outdrawing white baseball by a significant margin. it was a big business. business in were in very significant industries and making great successes and great and organizedes, the social value of their work, in many ways. that is the big revolution. -- in my that suddenly
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mind, on an emotional level, there is a very strong black was dignified and powerful and cohesive and it was successful, in many ways. but this country needed those people to be part of america as well. tos not just a value african-americans to have this equality. it is a value to our country as a whole to have everybody participating and feeling that they have equal access and equal input on the direction and the focus of our society going forward. this: i hate to interrupt
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master class being taught by harrison ford. you are on a roll. in 10 years of doing the show, that is one of the most powerful and sublime and succinct read s of why america needs all of us that think i have ever heard, and i thank you for it. you kill the, so thank you for that. >> it has been a pleasure. tavis: that is our show for tonight. thanks for watching, and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with and nancy wilson from the rock band heart. that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is
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always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.
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